John Chaney, the legendary Temple University basketball coach, the very face of the school on North Broad Street for a generation and an icon of his sport, has passed away at age 89.
Chaney had led Temple to five appearances in the NCAA Elite Eight, the last trip in 2001, the year Chaney was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In addition to 17 trips to the NCAA tournament with the Owls, Chaney won a Division II national title at Cheyney University.
Known for his sometimes fiery temperament, his early morning practices, his unique matchup zone defense, his aversion to turnovers, and his fierce devotion to offering a hand to lift those who most needed a lift, Chaney retired in 2006 after winning 741 games between Cheyney and Temple.
“A man who lived his life the way he wanted, and will be remembered for his service,” said Simon Gratz High coach Lynard Stewart, who played for Chaney at Temple.
A flat-out funny man. His press conferences always were can’t-miss affairs — not just the time Chaney stormed into a John Calipari press conference after a Temple-Massachusetts game, famously yelling at Calipari, “I’ll kill you.”
His morning practices, usually from about dawn to 8 a.m., were part of the Chaney experience. The Owls would be working on something, proceeding as normal, when Chaney would say, “Hold up, hold up …” And then this man would take his players for a journey lasting many minutes, offering not just life lessons, but applying life to basketball.
He liked his basketball plain. Simple passes. Being in the right spot, passing to the right man.
“He’s open for a reason,” he’d tell guards who passed to a big man who dropped the ball.
“Guard him like a windshield wiper,” he’d tell a forward charged with a big defensive assignment during the NCAA tournament, where a matchup with Temple was a dreaded ordeal for an opponent.
Off the court, Chaney made his greatest impact as a public face of opposition to NCAA initial-eligibility standards. Great Temple players such as Eddie Jones and Aaron McKie, now the Owls coach, were ineligible to play as freshmen. Chaney didn’t just take them, he championed them.
This is a developing story and will be updated.